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Reasonable expectations for Trevor Lawrence as Jacksonville Jaguars rookie starting QB

As expected, the Jacksonville Jaguars named Trevor Lawrence their Week 1 starting quarterback on Wednesday.

First-year head coach Urban Meyer had been attempting to create some sort of quarterback competition between the rookie No. 1 overall pick and Gardner Minshew. Said “competition” lasted through two preseason games with both showing mixed results.

Now that we know it will be Lawrence under center when Jacksonville opens up its season against the hapless Houston Texans, the focus turns to what we can expect from the generational talent.

Jacksonville is coming off a one-win season. It is lacking talent on both sides of the ball. It boasts a first-year head coach in Meyer who has no experience at the NFL level. On the surface, this seems to suggest some major struggles on Lawrence’s part. But that’s just on the surface.

Here’s what we would call reasonable expectations for the former Clemson standout as a Year 1 starting quarterback in the NFL.

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Trevor Lawrence will put up big numbers — both ways

jacksonville jaguars' trevor lawrence named starting qb
Aug 14, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands the ball off against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The ups and downs of a rookie quarterback in today’s NFL will be on full display in Duval starting Week 1. For Lawrence, that’s magnified after fellow rookie first-round pick and backfield partner Travis Etienne was lost for the season.

There’s now going to be more of an onus placed on Lawrence’s shoulders. This will ultimately lead to some games in which balance is not part of the Jaguars’ lexicon. We can envision outings that Lawrence has to attempt 40-plus passes.

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Add in Jacksonville’s defense being seen as one of the worst in the NFL, and there’s going to be some high-scoring games. Remember, this unit gave up an absurd 30.8 points per game last season. While it’s improved to an extent, this is still a major weakness.

In the end, it would not be a surprise if Lawrence threw for north of 4,000 yards with 25 touchdowns. He’ll likely also be picked off 20-plus times. Jaguars fans shouldn’t be overly concerned, as those numbers would compare favorably to what we saw from an all-time great quarterback during his rookie season nearly a quarter-century ago.

Jacksonville Jaguars will be much more competitive under Trevor Lawrence

jacksonville jaguars' trevor lawrence
Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands the ball off to running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

After opening their 2020 campaign with a 27-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars proceeded to lose 15 consecutive to close things out. Nine of those 15 losses came by double digits with Jacksonville losing by an average margin of 11.7 points per outing.

While it’s foolish to believe that these Jags will compete for a playoff spot this season, there’s no reason to believe they won’t be more competitive. The simple presence of Trevor Lawrence and his dual-threat ability will lift up an offense that ranked 30th in scoring last season. Seeing said offense put up more sustained drives will also help the defense.

It’s not that Jacksonville is completely void of talent on offense. Young receivers Laviska Shenault Jr. and D.J. Chark have a tremendous amount of upside. Second-year back James Robinson went for north of 1,400 total yards as a rookie. Add in the presence of Lawrence, and this will enable Jacksonville to stay extremely competitive throughout the 2021 season.